Developers in the city who have been objecting to the stringent environmental norms for their projects have reason to cheer. The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) has eased the environmental clearance norms.
Earlier,all construction spread over 20,000 sq m built-up area and townships over 50 hectares had to go through mandatory environmental clearance from the state-level Environment Impact Assessment Authority. Projects larger than that had to be cleared by the MOEF.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2009 has diluted the norms by exempting all housing projects under 50,000 sq m built-up area. The area of townships requiring clearance has also been raised to 100 hectares.
The EIA looks at several issues like groundwater recharge,sewage treatment,parking facilities,solid waste management and green open spaces in construction projects. The new amendment will result in easing of environmental hurdles for the majority of new construction projects in Mumbai.
For instance,with a floor Space Index (FSI) of 2 in Mumbai,only those projects on a large plot of over 25,000-sq-metre will now require environmental clearance.
Similarly,in case of townships,any project spread over 100 acres (40 hectares) can be classified as a township,and only those over 100 hectares will now need the green nod.
Developers,however,term the EIA itself as irrelevant and a red tape. According to Kumar Gera,chairman of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI),EIA is a noble idea that got distorted.
The new amendment only redefines whom the system is getting into its clutches. While a developer who has a large project of over 50,000-sq-metres will be forced to wait for months to get an environmental clearance,others with several small projects that cumulatively account for more than 200 acres will not be subject to similar clearances, said Gera.
He added that if the government really wants to enforce sustainable green development,then it should eliminate committees that assess individual projects under the EIA and instead have legislations for the use of solar power,groundwater recharge,tree plantations etc.,making it applicable to projects across the board. As of now,the clearance can takes months depending on how fast a developer wishes to expedite it. The delay that occurs while waiting for the clearance only results in the cost of the project shooting higher, said Gera.